Jump to content

Eataly DC - Possibly To Open in The Area


weinoo
 Share

Recommended Posts

It appears as if the team is scouting for a D.C. location, at least according to Grub Street, who of course get their info from the Huffington Post.

Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich are also planning to bring their food emporium to D.C.

Hide the kids and get ready for the crowds, I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's the appeal of this place? It seemed like a Wegmans laid out Ikea-style. With probably less stuff.

I can only imagine that the appeal is shopping in an isle-less, end-cap-less environment. Makes it feel more like I "discovered" the box of pasta instead of just grabbing it off a shelf.

Am I missing something?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's the appeal of this place? It seemed like a Wegmans laid out Ikea-style. With probably less stuff.

I can only imagine that the appeal is shopping in an isle-less, end-cap-less environment. Makes it feel more like I "discovered" the box of pasta instead of just grabbing it off a shelf.

Am I missing something?

Depends who you ask, I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I personally think the invasion of chefs from NY and elsewhere is a great thing. Regardless of whether Eataly lives up to the hype, I'm certainly not going to complain about having more options. A rising tide lifts all boats, right?

Eataly has nothing to do with being a rising tide; perhaps an invasive species.

Has Shake Shack lifted Frank Ruta's Yacht-Burger?

Did Old Homestead Raise The Steaks?

I don't want to repeat myself, so here you go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eataly has nothing to do with being a rising tide; perhaps an invasive species.

Has Shake Shack lifted Frank Ruta's Yacht-Burger?

Did Old Homestead Raise The Steaks?

I don't want to repeat myself, so here you go.

Well, if a place sucks, I can always not go. Fortunately, YOU try just about every place first and write about it, so I don't end up wasting MY money!

We're still a town living self-consciously in the shadow of New York in certain ways. How else would you explain the fawning over a hamburger joint when we have dozens? But we've beaten back most of the chaf with a stick. And the bad imports that have suceeded are no worse than the bad homegrown restaurants that succeed.

The truly worthy, homespun places seem to be doing well. To use your examples, Palena recently expanded and Ray's the Steaks has spawned three siblings. Granted, a few of the great, esoteric places we all loved have gone, but that always happens. And many local places have even spawned mini-empires (for example: Jaleo/Zaytinya/Oyamel/Minibar, Eve/Eamonn/Majestic/Virtue, DC Coast/Acadiana/Pasionfish, Evening Star/Tallula/Birch&Barley/Rustico, Proof/Estadio, Bombay Club/701/Oval Room/Ardeo+Bardeo/Rasika/Bibiana, etc.).

As for the clunkers from NY and elsewhere, without them, there'd be no Source or Adour. I'd take all the bad to have either.

As for Eataly, I haven't been to the one in NY so I can't judge it. But it's certainly not going to crowd the market. From what I gather, there isn't anything like it in DC proper or even outside it. How could it hurt?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I gather, there isn't anything like it in DC proper or even outside it. How could it hurt?

Maybe the Italian Store? How could it hurt? It couldn't.

As someone who resides in DC and NYC, the outright hostility toward anything or anyone associated with the NY restaurant scene on this board is frustrating, and in my opinion, misplaced. "Invasive Species" or not, Eataly or other ventures will succeed or fail on their own merit. I highly doubt Eataly or others are crowding "locals" out of the market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To compare the potential opening of Eataly in D.C. to the opening of Shake Shack in D.C., is, I think, a mistake. Certainly, New Yorkers flocked to Shake Shack when it opened, not because it was the first burger place to open; there are literally hundreds of places to get burgers, and as Landrum pointed out so eloquently in another thread, to each his own as far as burgers (and, for that matter, ice cream) are concerned. The reason New Yorkers flocked to Shack Shack in the beginning, and still do, is because it's in a beautiful park, with a wonderful outdoor setting, and there aren't aren't many of those. That it's a Danny Meyer establishment, in that park and neighborhood which Meyer pretty much single handedly rejuvenated, might also have something to do with it. Trust me, every city should be so lucky as to have restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino, The Modern, et. al. all within a 10 minute cab ride of one another.

Batali and Bastianich are another team with a few quite successful restaurants to their name, including the only high-end Italian NY Times 4-star, Del Posto. Po and Lupa redefined what was then known as Italian food in New York City. Babbo took it a step further and to a higher level. Eataly, no matter what the pundits say (and there were/are plenty of them, myself included), offers something that had not been seen in NY; a celebrity chef bringing together, under one roof, everything that he loves about Italy; great raw materials if you want to cook; wonderful pizza if you want a pie; seafood cooked by one of NYC's finest fisherman/chefs; high-end Piemontese food; a cooking school where you might take a class taught by Lidia Bastianich; and on and on.

So, rather than say what a failure it will be, or rather than saying how unnecessary it might be, or how smug NYers will get their comeuppance once it opens, why not look forward to another place where some good food and some good raw materials and who knows what else, all available under one roof, might await those who dare to enter?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I've more than once suggested that New Yorkers have a culinary arrogance that occasionally compromises their critical facilities (probably comes from drinking their over-praised tap water), and I am no fan of invasive chains or New York-based chefs who seem to feel that transporting their unwieldy Gothamite reps and egos down the Turnpike is really all they need to do do impress us provincials.

That being said, I stumbled across Eataly more or less by accident two NYC trips ago ("as long as we're stuck in traffic right outside, let's check it out") and dropped in, and returned last weekend. Sure, it's full of a lot of "high-end" flotsam and jetsam that you can find anyplace from Vace to the Italian Store -- though there's certainly a greater variety, if you're really committed to finding the one perfect brand of dried fettuccine or are compelled to try every olive oil Tuscany deigns to ship abroad.

But, you know.... an excellent variety of cheese and meats, surprisingly varied and reasonably-priced greens and vegetables ( favas that far outperform anything still lingering in Whole Food's produce section, for example), a couple places to get wine and snacks, serious-ass guanciali, some "hundred dollar bacon" that I bought after the wine and haven't tasted yet....

And the tacky/touristy thing comes in way under the level you might confront at Pentagon City Mall on a normal Wednesday.

If they can equal the variety of the New York place and put it someplace convenient (for me, I don't care about you :mellow: ) it will be great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's the appeal of this place? It seemed like a Wegmans laid out Ikea-style. With probably less stuff.

I can only imagine that the appeal is shopping in an isle-less, end-cap-less environment. Makes it feel more like I "discovered" the box of pasta instead of just grabbing it off a shelf.

Am I missing something?

I'm going to answer my own question. I've been in the Eataly in NY.

I believe that the appeal is less about the food than about the psycological appeal of shared commerce in close quarters. It literally is about the feel-good that comes when you feel like you've discovered a box of pasta vs. grabbing it off the industrial shelf in the pasta aisle of Shoppers Food Warehouse. It is about the social atmosphere, about being where others are...etc. And a place like Eataly - which offers cooked food, tables to eat, aisles to shop, gadgets to buy and classes to take. It becomes a kind of controlled mayhem, like a party almost - where some are digging on the music, others on the people watching, others on the munchies - but all there to be a part of the scene.

It is a foodie nightclub on a Saturday morning.

This appeal can be found in Pittsburgh in the Strip District where old shops have haphazard wares and much of the place is TIGHT. You might find some really unique pasta in a dark corner, where you fought through a crowd in a 120 year old italian market to get to it. The reality is it might be the same stuff available at Giant...but you EARNED it, and got to join a social scene while doing so. Cults use these same tactics.

And Eataly does too.

When I asked my question, it wasn't to judge that Eataly is bad, or that I care if NYers come down here. Rather, I was trying to understand the appeal - and the appeal is mostly in the people that come, as a very socal space is created.

I mentioned in another thread that a place like this would be perfect for Rockville Town Center - and other such places. Really any place with density would probably have some success...and if some developer could cobble together a few such places and make a new "strip district" somewhere around DC - that would be pretty cool.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to answer my own question. I've been in the Eataly in NY.

I believe that the appeal is less about the food than about the psycological appeal of shared commerce in close quarters. It literally is about the feel-good that comes when you feel like you've discovered a box of pasta vs. grabbing it off the industrial shelf in the pasta aisle of Shoppers Food Warehouse. It is about the social atmosphere, about being where others are...etc. And a place like Eataly - which offers cooked food, tables to eat, aisles to shop, gadgets to buy and classes to take. It becomes a kind of controlled mayhem, like a party almost - where some are digging on the music, others on the people watching, others on the munchies - but all there to be a part of the scene.

It is a foodie nightclub on a Saturday morning.

This appeal can be found in Pittsburgh in the Strip District where old shops have haphazard wares and much of the place is TIGHT. You might find some really unique pasta in a dark corner, where you fought through a crowd in a 120 year old italian market to get to it. The reality is it might be the same stuff available at Giant...but you EARNED it, and got to join a social scene while doing so. Cults use these same tactics.

And Eataly does too.

When I asked my question, it wasn't to judge that Eataly is bad, or that I care if NYers come down here. Rather, I was trying to understand the appeal - and the appeal is mostly in the people that come, as a very socal space is created.

I mentioned in another thread that a place like this would be perfect for Rockville Town Center - and other such places. Really any place with density would probably have some success...and if some developer could cobble together a few such places and make a new "strip district" somewhere around DC - that would be pretty cool.

Surprise! Your observations confirmed the hypothesis you formed before you had any observations on which to form that hypothesis.

Although you observations apply to ever single farmers market I've ever been to (paging Mark Toigo/Next Step Farms), I think you're thinking too hard -- like an undergrad with a looming deadline for his Urban Cultural Geography paper.

The appeal of the place is that behind the marketing veneer, it does a very good job of delivering the goods for a reasonably discerning crowd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At what scale will this be, compared to the NYC one? Are there enough people who live in DC to support it?

Clearly, smarter people than me think so. As a denizen of the burbs, I may shop there a couple times a year, or about as often as I shop at Eataly NYC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...It is a foodie nightclub on a Saturday morning.

That's brilliant, I'm stealing that phrase. The need for community and tribe is deeper-seated than many of us realize. And yes, this applies to farmers markets, other forums, it's an often sub-conscious buzz and motivator.

Eataly's model is sure to strike a chord here in DC as well, one of the most community-challenged in the nation. Darn traffic.

(anyone want)

(to go)

(Bowling Alone with me)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The appeal of the place is that behind the marketing veneer, it does a very good job of delivering the goods for a reasonably discerning crowd.

OK, so it'll be like...what...Vace? I agree that it will have some similarities to Vace. I'm not doubting that they will serve good things and that discerning folks will go and go again.

I'm pointing out there will also be differences from a place like Vace and took a stab at explaining those differences. If you believe the appeal will be based on doing a very good job of delivering the goods for a reasonably discerning crowd... then we agree to disagree.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surprise! Your observations confirmed the hypothesis you formed before you had any observations on which to form that hypothesis.

Although you observations apply to ever single farmers market I've ever been to (paging Mark Toigo/Next Step Farms), I think you're thinking too hard -- like an undergrad with a looming deadline for his Urban Cultural Geography paper.

Not sure what you're talking about re observations and hypothesis - I went to Eataly about 3-4 months ago. And while I may be overthinking it, I'd confidently guess that the primary investors have given this a good deal more thought than I; I'd confidently guess that they are going after the farmer's market mojo and I'd confidently guess that their reach is intended to go well beyond just good food to discerning shoppers.

But those are guesses.

Now I've got to run, I'm working on this paper, you see, and...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally I've never gone to a farmers market or any market to socialize. Maybe some do, and maybe that's part of the appeal of Eataly. But to me, the appeal is to get some good food that I can't get elsewhere. I see no reason to pinpoint what the appeal of Eataly is, unless you're studying marketing (as Waitman good-humoredly chides).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Totally agree. Too many posts on could've would've should've. Folks should just try it and decide if they want to go back. If they will not try it based upon pre-conceived notions, they need to get a life. if I followed that pattern I'd be drink the same wines everyday, and I don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Totally agree. Too many posts on could've would've should've. Folks should just try it and decide if they want to go back. If they will not try it based upon pre-conceived notions, they need to get a life. if I followed that pattern I'd be drink the same wines everyday, and I don't.

I've been.

I stand by my statement above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Totally agree. Too many posts on could've would've should've. Folks should just try it and decide if they want to go back. If they will not try it based upon pre-conceived notions, they need to get a life. if I followed that pattern I'd be drink the same wines everyday, and I don't.

I have tried it. I look forward to going back, espcially if they open in DC. I have nothing against it and was merely commenting on why Eataly is so different and popular today. Should I not comment again until I have a picture of some ziti on a plate? :mellow: I don't want to stray too far from what we're supposed to talk about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not ziti on a plate, but delicious nonetheless. As to the "psychological" aspect of shopping with the hordes, I thought that was what everyone disliked about the place...the crowds, boss, the crowds. Personally, I shop when at the times when I'm hoping to not see another soul, other than the butcher, fishmonger and cashier.

post-6410-0-34527600-1310164929_thumb.jp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's hard to figure out where it would/could work. Could it work for the boarded up spot at the corner of 7th & H NW? That'd be a great location for it though it might be too small. If not, it seems like you need to compromise a bit on location/foot traffic to find that kind of space. Maybe an unbuilt building on the close in edges of the Hill. There's something slated for 2nd & H NE that would fit that billing, provide good access to Union Station/Hill staff/NoMa and which would suit me well. Where else can you find an entire city block of ground level retail available that is readily attainable by a lot folks?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Downtown Silver Spring.

There's AFI and Ray's and otherwise a lot of sad, pathetic retail. Borders just emptied. Pier 1 just emptied. Move the Marshall's from City Plaza to those spaces, expanding it to accommodate domestic wares from the chain's Home stores and then kick everyone out of City Plaza and build up EatItaly in tiers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Downtown Silver Spring.

There's AFI and Ray's and otherwise a lot of sad, pathetic retail. Borders just emptied. Pier 1 just emptied. Move the Marshall's from City Plaza to those spaces, expanding it to accommodate domestic wares from the chain's Home stores and then kick everyone out of City Plaza and build up EatItaly in tiers.

This would presumably be Eataly without the wine store portion - can't imagine that working in MoCo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While Eataly is typically described as "Batali-Bastianich's giant Italian warehouse and food court," Eataly was conceived by an Italian businessman named Oscar Farinetti, not Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. Farinetti, who also runs the Fontanafredda winery, opened the first Eataly in Turin in 2007. Batali-Bastianich are partners in the USA Eataly, but Farinetti founded it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The appeal of the place is that behind the marketing veneer, it does a very good job of delivering the goods for a reasonably discerning crowd.

So why are they not finding a place and thus not opening in DC? If the appeal was as simple as this, it shouldn't matter much where it is, or the size or the apparent requirement it all be on one floor - just deliver the goods and the discerning crowd will respond to this appeal, no?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The appeal of the place is that behind the marketing veneer, it does a very good job of delivering the goods for a reasonably discerning crowd.

So why are they not finding a place and thus not opening in DC? If the appeal was as simple as this, it shouldn't matter much where it is, or the size or the apparent requirement it all be on one floor - just deliver the goods and the discerning crowd will respond to this appeal, no?

I have a hard time picturing a location in DC that could draw the sheer mass of high net worth individuals that Eataly's business model seems to assume (or that their 23rd and 5th location delivers).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a hard time picturing a location in DC that could draw the sheer mass of high net worth individuals that Eataly's business model seems to assume (or that their 23rd and 5th location delivers).

Excellent point, the target demographic in DC is minuscule compared to NYCs. Maybe they're considering a scaled-down model? If so, it will just be another Dean and DeLuca or Balducci's type of operation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...